I was out at dinner in Manhattan last night, so I missed seeing the play live. When I was heading home, I talked to Squawker Jon, who saw the play on TV and said that either Jeter was really hurt -- or really faking it! Jon thought Jeter was doing the latter.
Since then, I watched the clip (go here if you haven't seen it.) Let me tell you something -- it just goes to show what I have been saying for years whenever Alex Rodriguez was caught in an on-field controversy, whether it be the slap play, the Ha play, or the "get off my mound" debacle. And that is that if Derek Jeter had done any of the so-called "bush league" things A-Rod had gotten lambasted for, writers and fans would be praising his gamesmanship, quick thinking, and his willingness to do whatever it takes to win.
Just take a look at what happened in the Yankees-Rays game. Jeter, who has been slumping for the last three months, took the opportunity to get on base, even though he didn't deserve to be there in that situation. When Chad Qualls' pitch hit Jeter's bat, and made a cracking noise, the captain writhed around like he got hit by it, and then literally doubled over in pain. Because of the whole dog-and-pony show Jeter put on, home plate umpire Lance Barksdale awarded Jeter first, which proved crucial when Curtis Granderson hit a two-run homer to briefly put the Yankees ahead. Ultimately, thanks to Phil Hughes serving up another homer to Dan Johnson, Tampa Bay won the game.
Jeter readily admitted in the postgame that the ball hit the bat, and not him:
Jeter, smiling slyly during his postgame exchange with the media, made no apologies for capitalizing on the opportunity.
"Well, (Barksdale) told me to go to first," he said. "I'm not going to tell him I'm not going to first. I mean, my job is to try to get on base."
Asked if he was responding to the vibration from the ball hitting the end of his bat or acting when he shook his arm, Jeter said, "Vibration. And acting. Both."
Let's review. Jeter, the manmany fans consider to have the most integrity of any player in baseball, pretended to be hit by the pitch, and he wasn't. His getting awarded first base could have been the deciding factor in the game. Then he smiled in the postgame as he not only admitted faking the whole thing, but essentially blamed the ump for falling for his act. And to top it all off, media admiringly praised his act. One example -- Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger wrote that Jeter "pulled off a performance worthy of adding another item to his trophy case: an Oscar," and said the struggling shortstop "applied a Shakespearian interpretation."
If you changed Derek Jeter's name to Alex Rodriguez in this scenario, do you think there would be one bit of positive press thrown A-Rod's way? Do you think anybody would be praising Alex's gamesmanship, great acting, quick thinking, and willingness to win? Of course not.
Look, it's not that I'm against what Jeter did last night. Good for him. He's been struggling, and the Yankees have been slumping. He wanted to get on base by any means necessary. You know, kind of like the way a struggling A-Rod tried to get on first to get something going for his team in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS.
But it just goes to show that Jeter, the person treated as a living saint by many Yankee fans, can be just as guilty of committing a so-called "bush league" play as A-Rod. Of course, when the captain does it, it's great baseball, but when A-Rod does it, it's a crime against humanity. As Billy Wagner would say, shocker!
What do you think? Tell us about it!